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Local councils will be given greater power to control holiday lets by making them subject to planning rules, under new government proposals due to come into force this summer. 

A new mandatory national register will also be introduced to give local authorities greater information about short-term lets in their area, says the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. 

It says: “These changes are part of a long-term plan to prevent a ‘hollowing out’ of communities, address anti-social behaviour and ensure local people can continue to live in the place they call home.” 

The department adds its new planning controls will give councils “will support local people in areas where high numbers of short-term lets are preventing them from finding housing they can afford to buy or to rent”. 

It points out that the new short-term national register will “help councils understand the extent of short-term lets in their area, the effects on their communities, and underpin compliance with key health and safety regulations”. 

The department says its proposed planning changes would see a new planning ‘use class’ created for short-term lets not used as a sole or main home.  

Existing dedicated short-term lets will automatically be reclassified into the new use class and will not require a planning application. 

Housing secretary Michael Gove says: “Short-term lets can play an important role in the UK’s flourishing tourism economy, providing great, easily-accessible accommodation in some of the most beautiful parts of our country. 

“But in some areas, too many local families and young people feel they are being shut out of the housing market and denied the opportunity to rent or buy in their own community. 

“So, the government is taking action as part of its long-term plan for housing. 

“This will allow local communities to take back control and strike the right balance between protecting the visitor economy and ensuring local people get the homes they need.” 

Airbnb general manager for Northern Europe, Amanda Cupples adds: “Families who host on Airbnb will benefit from clear rules that support their activity, and local authorities will get access to the information they need to assess and manage housing impacts and keep communities healthy, where necessary. 

“We have long led calls for the introduction of a host register and we look forward to working together to make it a success.” 

The government also intends to introduce associated permitted development rights — one allowing for a property to be changed from a short-term let to a standard residential dwelling, and a second that would allow a property to be changed to a short-term let.  

Local authorities will be able to remove these permissions and require full planning permission if they deem it necessary. 

These measures are focussed on short-term lets, and so the planning changes and the register will not affect hotels, hostels or B&Bs, the government says. 

It adds that homeowners will still be able to let out their own main or sole home for up to 90 nights throughout a year without planning permission  

The department adds that it “is considering how to apply the register so it does not apply disproportionate regulation for example on property owners that let out their home infrequently”. 

It says that further details of these measures will be set out in its response to consultations, including the timeline for implementation of the register, the use class and the individual permitted development rights.

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